Ex-Cas­ca­di­an chief Scott My­ers lands at Bio­Clin; Ko­di­ak woos Genen­tech vet Ja­son Ehrlich for CMO role

Scott My­ers

Scott My­ers and Julie East­land, two of the top ex­ecs head­ed out as Cas­ca­di­an Ther­a­peu­tics got ab­sorbed in­to Seat­tle Ge­net­ics, have both set­tled at Bio­Clin Ther­a­peu­tics. Stay­ing in fa­mil­iar roles, My­ers has been named CEO while East­land is CFO and chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. My­ers, who pre­vi­ous­ly held man­age­ment po­si­tions at UCB and J&J be­fore tak­ing the helm of a med­ical de­vice com­pa­ny, suc­ceeds Bio­Clin founder Stephen Lau. The ap­point­ments are an­nounced as the San Le­an­dro, CA-based biotech is gear­ing up for reg­is­tra­tional tri­als of its lead com­pound, vo­fa­tam­ab (B-701).

→ De­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease spe­cial­ist Bi­o­Time $BTX has tapped Bri­an Cul­ley as its new CEO, tak­ing up a role pre­vi­ous­ly shared by Adi Mo­han­ty and Michael West. Cul­ley helmed Mast Ther­a­peu­tics for sev­en years be­fore a failed lead pro­gram dragged it down and left it with lit­tle op­tion oth­er than serv­ing as a shell for Savara’s re­verse merg­er. West will now move on­to the chief ex­ec­u­tive role at AgeX, a Bi­o­Time af­fil­i­ate fo­cused on age-re­lat­ed de­gen­er­a­tive ail­ments.

Vanes­sa King

→ Ex­pe­ri­enced biotech vet Vanes­sa King has tak­en the CEO job at Lon­don-based Viri­on Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, build­ing on a par­ti­cle tech plat­form to fo­cus on res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease. King had been CEO at Luc Ther­a­peu­tics and ear­li­er worked the busi­ness de­vel­op­ment side of the ta­ble for de­CODE, be­fore Am­gen bought out the com­pa­ny. Is­abel Na­jera was al­so named as the com­pa­ny’s chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer.

→ Por­to­la $PT­LA has turned to an ex­pe­ri­enced com­mer­cial ex­ec for its new CEO. Scott Gar­land is join­ing the com­pa­ny from Re­lyp­sa, where he was pres­i­dent. Ear­li­er Gar­land had been an EVP at Ex­elix­is and has a re­sume that in­cludes a stint at Genen­tech.

→ Just days af­ter map­ping out a com­pet­i­tive strat­e­gy for its oph­thal­mol­o­gy drug in a $100 mil­lion IPO fil­ing, Ko­di­ak Sci­ences says it’s brought in Genen­tech vet Ja­son Ehrlich as chief med­ical and de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. As glob­al head of clin­i­cal oph­thal­mol­o­gy at the big biotech, Ehrlich was a lead clin­i­cian for Lu­cen­tis — one of the cur­rent an­ti-VEGF drugs that Ko­di­ak has set out to beat. Al­so new to the com­pa­ny are Al­mas Qudrat, VP of qual­i­ty op­er­a­tions, and Pablo Ve­lazquez-Mar­tin, who will over­see clin­i­cal re­search and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine.

Wladimir (Vlad) Hogen­huis is the new — and first — chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Ul­tragenyx $RARE, join­ing a team that’s ea­ger to re­al­ize block­buster am­bi­tions for its grow­ing port­fo­lio of rare dis­ease drugs. A long­time Mer­ck ex­ec, Hogen­huis spent the last six years at Glax­o­SmithK­line in a range of com­mer­cial and op­er­a­tional ca­pac­i­ties. That kind of all-round­ed ex­per­tise, Ul­tragenyx CEO Emil Kakkis says, will serve the com­pa­ny well for “many years to come.”

Jared Gol­lob

→ Fresh off the his­toric ap­provals of Al­ny­lam’s first RNAi drug, long­time staffer Jared Gol­lob has jumped ship to pur­sue an­oth­er “new fron­tier in drug dis­cov­ery” — pro­tein degra­da­tion. As CMO at Cam­bridge, MA-based Kymera, Gol­lob is tasked with ad­vanc­ing prod­uct can­di­dates for can­cer, au­toim­mune and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases iden­ti­fied by the com­pa­ny’s plat­form, all of which are still in the pre­clin­i­cal stage.

Na­tal­ie Sacks is part­ing ways with Aduro Biotech $ADRO af­ter serv­ing as its chief med­ical of­fi­cer for two years. Sacks’ tenure at the can­cer im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny was marked by a rocky clin­i­cal jour­ney with the can­cer vac­cine CRS-207, which lived through a par­tial hold but was ul­ti­mate­ly scrapped for dis­ap­point­ing ef­fi­ca­cy. There’s no im­me­di­ate word on Sacks’ next steps af­ter she of­fi­cial­ly leaves on Oc­to­ber 1.

Melin­ta Ther­a­peu­tics $ML­NT has ap­point­ed Pe­ter Mil­li­gan as the suc­ces­sor to CFO Paul Es­trem, who is re­tir­ing af­ter lead­ing the an­tibi­otics biotech through the re­verse merg­er with Cem­pra and the ac­qui­si­tion of The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny’s in­fec­tious dis­ease unit. Mil­li­gan joins from gener­ics phar­ma G&W Lab­o­ra­to­ries, where he had the same role.

Ja­cob Chacko has re­cruit­ed a for­mer Igny­ta col­league to his team at Oric Phar­ma. Pratik Mul­tani, who used to be CMO of the Roche-ac­quired biotech, will as­sume the same po­si­tion in Oric and im­me­di­ate be­gin steer­ing lead drug ORIC-101 in­to the clin­ic. “De­spite many new ther­a­pies, re­sis­tance re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­er to im­proved out­comes in most pa­tients with ad­vanced can­cers, and ORIC is at the fore­front of work to ad­dress that chal­lenge, be­gin­ning with the glu­co­cor­ti­coid re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nist and con­tin­u­ing with the rest of the pipeline,” he said in a state­ment.

→ Fol­low­ing a stint as head of biotech in­vest­ment bank­ing at RBC Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, Shane Ko­vacs is back in the front lines of biotech as chief busi­ness and fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Blue­Rock Ther­a­peu­tics. This would mark his sec­ond for­ay in­to biotech since leav­ing Cred­it Su­isse in 2013, the first be­ing at PTC Ther­a­peu­tics. Found­ed by Ver­sant Ven­tures and backed by Bay­er, Blue­Rock is de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies for re­gen­er­a­tive use.

Am­gen vet and for­mer Kite Phar­ma ex­ec An­tho­ny Polveri­no has joined Zymeworks $ZYME as CSO and EVP of ear­ly de­vel­op­ment, tak­ing a cen­tral role in dri­ving the R&D strat­e­gy for an am­bi­tious team de­vel­op­ing “mul­ti­func­tion­al ther­a­peu­tics”.

No­var­tis spin­out resTOR­bio $TORC has hired sea­soned com­mer­cial ex­ec Mered­ith Man­ning as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Hav­ing worked in mar­ket­ing, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and oth­er strate­gic roles across Pfiz­er, Ver­tex, Bax­ter and Shire, she is now ex­pect­ed to pave a way for resTOR­bio’s an­ti-ag­ing ther­a­pies.

Syned­gen has brought in Kaveri Park­er to lead busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of its gly­comics tech plat­form, which aims to treat in­flam­ma­to­ry and in­fec­tious dis­eases by tar­get­ing mu­cos­al in­ter­faces. The new chief busi­ness of­fi­cer was most re­cent­ly pres­i­dent and CEO of a di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­ny called ID Ge­nomics.

→ MPM-backed Har­poon Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Chris Whit­more, alum­ni of an­oth­er im­muno-on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny called Im­mune De­sign, as VP of fi­nance. Con­cur­rent­ly, Seat­tle Ge­net­ics’ for­mer CMO Jonathan Drach­man has joined their board.

John Hood [file photo]

UP­DATE: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

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UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

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UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

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Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

As dis­as­ter struck, Ab­b­Vie’s Rick Gon­za­lez swooped in on Al­ler­gan with an of­fer Brent Saun­ders couldn’t say no to

Early March was a no good, awful, terrible time for Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. His big lead drug had imploded in a Phase III disaster and activists were after his hide — or at least his chairman’s title — as the stock price continued a steady droop that had eviscerated share value for investors.

But it was a perfect time for AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez to pick up the phone and ask Saunders if he’d like to consider a “strategic” deal.

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CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

As­traZeneca's jug­ger­naut PARP play­er Lyn­parza scoops up an­oth­er dom­i­nant win in PhI­II as the FDA adds a 'break­through' for Calquence

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group under José Baselga keeps churning out hits.

Wednesday morning the pharma giant and their partners at Merck parted the curtains on a successful readout for their Phase III PAOLA-1 study, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival for women with ovarian cancer in a first-line maintenance setting who added their PARP Lynparza to Avastin. This is their second late-stage success in ovarian cancer, which will help stave off rivals like GSK.

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ICER blasts FDA, PTC and Sarep­ta for high prices on DMD drugs Em­flaza, Ex­ondys 51

ICER has some strong words for PTC, Sarepta and the FDA as the US drug price watchdog concludes that as currently priced, their respective new treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy are decidedly not cost-effective.

The final report — which cements the conclusions of a draft issued in May — incorporates the opinion of a panel of 17 experts ICER convened in a public meeting last month. It also based its analysis of Emflaza (deflazacort) and Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) on updated annual costs of $81,400 and over $1 million, respectively, after citing “incorrect” lower numbers in the initial calculations.